As moderate senators have been asked and asked again about their position on the impeachment of President Donald Trump, many have shied away from taking a firm position behind the argument that the senators must remain impartial if they’re going to serve as jurors on whether the president is removed from office.
Count Alaska’s Sen. Lisa Murkowski among that group. The moderate who’s already played key roles in opposing the Trump administration when it comes to repealing the Affordable Care Act and in the confirmation of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh has often repeated the line throughout the process and Christmas took it a step further.
In an interview with KTUU, Murkowski said she was “disturbed” by Senate President Mitch McConnell’s fervent defense of the president. McConnell promised earlier this month “total coordination” with the White House and Trump’s defense team, saying there is “zero chance” the president is removed from office.
“And in fairness, when I heard that, I was disturbed,” Murkowski said before describing that there should be distance between the White House and the Senate in how the trial is conducted. “To me it means that we have to take that step back from being hand in glove with the defense, and so I heard what leader McConnell had said, I happened to think that that has further confused the process.”
But don’t expect Murkowski to be “hand in glove” with House Democrats on the matter. She was similarly critical of the House’s rush to vote on articles of impeachment and said the House Speaker Nancy Pelosi should have exhausted the legal options to compel key witnesses to testify against Trump’s orders.
“If the House truly believed that they had information that was going to be important, they subpoena them and if they ignore the subpoena, as they did at the direction of the White House, then that next step is to go to the courts,” she said.
Currently, Pelosi is still holding onto the articles of impeachment that were approved by the House as they negotiate with the Senate over the procedures for the trial. Murkowski told KTUU that she’s still uncertain how—or if—witness will be invited to testify in front of the Senate.
Murkowski said she’s still undecided on the allegations against Trump, arguing that that’s how a senator should be when asked to review such an important issue as removing the president from office.
“For me to be prejudge and say there’s nothing there or on the other hand he should be impeached yesterday. That’s wrong. In my view, that’s wrong,” she said, later adding that, “If it means that I’m viewed as one who looks openly and critically at every issue in front of me rather than acting as a rubber stamp for my party or my president, I’m good with that. I’m totally good with that.”
Why it matters
It’s another opportunity for progressives to get their hopes up about Murkowski, who has regularly been “concerned” or “disturbed” by the actions of President Trump and his administration. She has cast critical votes against him at several times through his first three years in office, but the vote with the biggest consequence: Her refusal to repeal the Affordable Care Act was undercut when she later voted to repeal the act’s individual mandate later through legislation that also opened the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to resource extraction.
Five stages of Murkowski:
5. Acquiescent https://t.co/u0QFVqMHBC
— David Noon (@davenoon1970) December 25, 2019